Christmas Eve Lobster Fra Diavlo (of the Devil!) ~ Sweetened, Elaine Style

Lobster Elaine
Recipe of Elaine Rizzo, Quincy, MA
Shared by daughter-in law, Barbara Anglin

IMG_1268This dish was created by Elaine Rizzo and served with her husband Louis Rizzo to their extended family, on Christmas Eve in the Merrymount neighborhood of Quincy, MA. It’s a festive meal for any special occasion and is especially enjoyable to prepare over Labor Day weekend in early September when lobsters are plentiful and tomato’s and herbs can be used fresh from the garden.

Elaine and Lou Rizzo

Elaine and Lou Rizzo

Lobster Fra- Diavlo is traditionally prepared hot as the devil, with red pepper, but Elaine liked to prepare the dish more herbal and sweet, hence the recipe name: Lobster Elaine, known simply as lobster and linguine. The idea is to infuse the lobster essence from the sauteed bodies into a homemade tomato sauce, itself infused with garlic, scallions and fresh herbs. Eventually, all of the lobster parts are sauteed, simmered in the sauce, and served over linguine. Heaven!

Set the table with lobster picks and pincers, and a bowl for the shells. Leftovers are delicious the next day, and the long-simmered sauce freezes well and can serve as a starter to jumpstart the process on the next occasion you prepare Lobster Elaine.

So, pass the cheese, finish with a light salad and enjoy some music with friends and family before dessert…


4 live lobsters
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
5 scallions, trimmed
5 garlic cloves
5 basil stems
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1 teaspoon dried oregano, optional
½ cup wine or vermouth (or Marsala or Madeira)
1 bay leaf
5 28-ounce containers chopped tomatoes (Barbara uses Pomi)
1 cup chopped Italian parsley, divided
1 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
pinch fresh tarragon (optional summer addition)
1tablespoon brown sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound linguine


I. Do The Deed
Dispatch and cut up the lobsters outside or in a large sink; have ready a cutting board, cleaver or heavy sharp knife, and a large bowl to collect the pieces and juice. First, relax the lobsters by placing them on cookie sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes or so. Lay each lobster on its back on the cutting board and make a swift and decisive cut between the pincers thru the mouth to sever the spinal column. Next, flip onto its belly and sever tail from body. Chop the tail into three even pieces; remove claws from body; cut knuckles off claws. Discard elastics (“rubber bands”, for those not from southeastern New England), antennae and eyeballs and keep cut pieces chilled till ready to sauté.

II. Make The Sauce
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in large, heavy saucepan. Add whole scallions and garlic cloves, and sauté lightly over medium-low heat. Add basil stems, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes if using, to infuse in oil gently for 15 minutes.

Raise heat to high and add the 4 lobster bodies to sear on all sides until bright red. Deglaze pan with the wine or vermouth and cook off briefly. Remove scallions, garlic, and basil stems. Add bay leaf. Pour tomatoes into a strainer held over the sauce pot to add juice. Chop tomato pulp and add. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower heat. Maintain a moderate simmer, stirring from time to time, for an hour. Season with sugar, salt, and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 3 more hours, stirring occasionally. (Add a ½ cup of boiling water to thin sauce, as needed).

III. Sauté the Lobster
An hour before meal time, gently heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in large sauté pan, then add a ¼ cup each of the chopped parsley and basil to infuse. Increase heat to medium-high, then add lobster pieces (in batches if necessary) in this order: tail pieces, then claws, and finally knuckles. Sauté, turning often, until the shells are bright red, then remove to a bowl to collect juices. (The meat will only be partially cooked at this point.)

When the last lobster pieces are ready, return the rest to the sauté pan, along with any accumulated juices. Ladle on enough of the tomato sauce to cover and sprinkle with ¼ cup each of the chopped parsley and basil. Lower to simmer, partly covered, infusing the lobster meat in sauce as you cook the linguine. Adjust the seasonings as necessary.

IV. Final Assembly
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook linguine until al dente. Drain in a colander.

Transfer the lobster pieces to a heated serving bowl or platter, leaving some sauce behind in sauté pan. Add linguine to that remaining sauce and toss briefly to coat, adding more sauce from large pot as needed.

Dish up on serving platter, alongside the lobster. Sprinkle with remaining chopped parsley and basil and serve immediately. Offer additional sauce and grated Parmigiano or Romano cheese on the side.

Note: Some eaters favor the long-simmered bodies; you may wish to serve them, too.
Serves 4-5.

Enjoy with friends and family!

A special thanks to Dean Rizzo for inviting me to dinner many years ago; to Mason Anglin-Rizzo for so carefully removing the eyeballs and antennae from each lobster; and to Lou Rizzo Jr. for cheerfully pouring many glasses of wine any time Lobster Elaine is served.

Read all about Lobster Elaine, and its essential place in Anglin/Rizzo culinary customs, in the 2014-15 Winter edition of edible South Shore & South Coast: Marrying Food Traditions.

Barbara Anglin, photo by Michael Hart
Barbara Anglin
cooks with locally sourced ingredients in all of her favorite family recipes. She believes the dishes taste better infused with deep nutrition from local food and gratitude for the farmers and makers who raise the foods that nourish her family.

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